Tuesday 26 May 2020

Movie Review: Crocodile Dundee (1986)

A comedy and romance, Crocodile Dundee celebrates Australian outback culture through the affable personality of star Paul Hogan.

New York-based reporter Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski) is on assignment in Australia, and convinces her boss and lover Richard (Mark Blum) that she should pursue the story of Mike "Crocodile" Dundee (Hogan). Legend has it that Dundee was alone in the outback and survived a vicious crocodile attack, crawling for days and miles to return to civilization.

Sue travels to the remote community of Walkabout Creek and meets Dundee's friend and tour business partner Walt (John Meillon), then Dundee himself. He takes her to the outback to revisit the scene of the famous crocodile attack, and on their multi-day journey they start to fall in love. Sue invites Dundee to accompany her back to New York, where he now has to navigate the urban jungle.

Australian comedian, television personality and beer spokesperson Paul Hogan conceived the Crocodile Dundee story and co-wrote the screenplay. Directed by Peter Faiman, the film is a perfect match for his easy-going simple-but-clever persona, and catapulted Hogan onto the international stage as Australia's most famous ambassador.

Certainly episodic and not even trying to conjure a plot beyond commemorating the Australian spirit, Crocodile Dundee nevertheless delivers pure fun.

Using a simple two-part structure, the film finds laughs through the reliable fish-out-of-water premise. In the first half Sue is the outsider in Dundee's natural habitat, and his resourcefulness and effortless ability to navigate all the hazards of the Australian wilderness are presented with comedic charm. Snakes, water buffalo, kangaroo hunters and of course a crocodile are no match for Dundee's unique brand of equalization.

The second half switches to Manhattan and now Dundee is far outside his comfort zone and occasionally bewildered. But the laughs come from applying rugged solutions to urban problems, including crowded sidewalks, prostitutes, pimps, muggers, bars, galas, and the insufferable Richard.

The chemistry between Sue and Dundee starts strong and builds quickly, but Faiman holds the couplehood at bay and keeps the focus on the man until a classic and rightfully celebrated final scene on a packed subway platform.

Amiable and easy to enjoy, Crocodile Dundee carries potent teeth on his hat.

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